Tribunal: Member Alison Murphy
The identities of all Protection visa applicants are private.
The applicant was granted a Protection visa in 2012 as he was found to be owed protection obligations as a national of Afghanistan of Hazara ethnicity. On 13 February 2017 a delegate of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection cancelled the visa because the applicant had provided incorrect answers on his visa application. The applicant listed his citizenship as Afghani but the delegate found that the applicant was a Pakistani citizen. The applicant applied to the AAT for a review of this decision.
The AAT found that before being granted his protection visa in 2012, the applicant was interviewed on four separate occasions and he consistently stated that he was born in Afghanistan to Afghan national parents. They left Afghanistan around 1981, which was consistent with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) advice that a large wave of Afghan nationals migrated to Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of that country from 1979. The AAT accepted that the applicant was an Afghani citizen at birth and would continue to be so unless he lost or renounced his citizenship.
In making its finding, the AAT considered a Pakistani Computerised National Identification Card (CNIC) issued to the applicant, and information that only Pakistani citizens are eligible to be issued with a CNIC. The applicant had also made return trips to Pakistan in 2012/13, 2014 and 2016 which suggested that he might have had a right to enter and reside in that country. The applicant did not deny that he had been issued a CNIC in Pakistan, but claimed that it was not a genuine document. He claimed that he had paid a bribe to have it falsely issued to him and he used it to obtain a passport before he left Pakistan. This was supported by DFAT advice that document fraud is widespread in Pakistan and that there were many government officials sacked for fraudulently issuing CNICs and other documents to foreigners.
In light of the country information and the finding that it was unlikely that the applicant could have become eligible for Pakistani citizenship through lawful means, the AAT accepted that he obtained his apparently genuine CNIC and associated documents fraudulently. The AAT also considered whether the applicant acquired Pakistani citizenship through migration, marriage or naturalisation and found that he did not. The AAT found that the applicant was an Afghani citizen only and that he did not provide incorrect information about his Afghan citizenship when he applied for the protection visa.
The AAT went on to consider whether the applicant provided incorrect information about his fear of returning to Pakistan. The applicant claimed in his protection visa application that he left Pakistan because his and his family’s life was in danger due to being targeted by terrorist groups. The delegate noted that the applicant returned to Pakistan three times since being granted a protection visa. At the AAT hearing, the applicant explained that he returned to Pakistan as there was a suicide attack near where his family were living and his children begged him to return, the second visit was when his father passed away, and his third visit was to assist his wife when she was ill. The AAT found that Hazaras were under sustained attack from extremists in Pakistan and did not consider the applicant’s visits to his family an indication that he did not fear harm in that country. Therefore, the AAT did not accept that the applicant provided incorrect information about his fear of harm in Pakistan in his protection visa application.
The AAT set aside the decision under review and substituted a decision not to cancel the applicant’s visa.
Read the full written decision on Austlii.